#2039 - Michael Easter

    Success and happiness cannot be measured solely by grades or income; it is vital to consider personal growth, relationships, and genuine satisfaction in defining our own path to success.

    en-usSeptember 26, 2023

    About this Episode

    Michael Easter is a health and fitness writer, professor, and author of several books. His latest is "Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset & Rewire your Mindset to Thrive with Enough."

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • In the age of the internet, it is crucial to go beyond surface-level knowledge and make an effort to deeply understand the complexities of the world we live in.
    • Conspiracy theories offer a simple explanation that aligns with personal worldviews, providing a sense of control and certainty, but it's important to critically evaluate information and seek evidence-based knowledge.
    • Our deep-rooted desire for exploration and accumulation can lead to excessive consumption and the inability to find balance and contentment in today's world of abundance.
    • The scarcity loop, employed in various industries, capitalizes on the allure of uncertain rewards and quick repetition to keep users engaged and addicted to products and services.
    • Our attraction to social media likes and slot machines is rooted in our evolutionary need to search for and repeat behaviors that helped our ancestors survive, leading to manipulation of our reward systems by big tech companies.
    • In our quest for stimulation and meaning, it is important to find a balance and engage in healthy activities rather than resorting to excessive or counterproductive behaviors. Each individual's path to optimal living is unique.
    • The rapid advancements in technology have improved our lives but have also created conflicts, concerns about authenticity, and a fear of being left behind. Balancing technology and human well-being is crucial for a harmonious coexistence.
    • The introduction of numbers can alter our perspective, shifting our focus away from original intentions and objectives, and influencing our behavior and decision-making.
    • Don't prioritize arbitrary benchmarks over the true value and pleasure of activities. Avoid being blinded by pursuit of rarity and uniqueness, and focus on genuine enjoyment and meaning in your pursuits.
    • Our perception of wine is shaped by expectations and the placebo effect. Expensive doesn't always mean better, as even experts can be fooled.
    • Success and happiness cannot be measured solely by grades or income; it is vital to consider personal growth, relationships, and genuine satisfaction in defining our own path to success.
    • True happiness lies in finding a higher purpose, prioritizing meaningful experiences over material possessions, and fostering positive interactions with others. Material wealth does not guarantee overall happiness.
    • Treat others with kindness and create positive experiences. Human connection and upliftment contribute to personal happiness and a better society.
    • By considering the influence of past experiences on people's behavior and offering empathy instead of judgment, we can create a more compassionate and supportive society.
    • Understanding the complexities and uncertainties surrounding vaccines and addiction is essential, as our initial assumptions and perspectives may not always reflect the full reality of these issues.
    • The influx of Captagon in the Middle East, facilitated by complex smuggling methods and controlled by powerful military units and terrorist organizations, highlights the destructive impact of easily accessible and potent drugs on vulnerable populations.
    • Addiction is not a simple issue, as it involves a combination of personal, societal, and psychological factors. Recovery requires empathy and a willingness to change.
    • Addiction can take many forms, and the accessibility of dangerous drugs has led to a rise in overdose deaths. The debate over drug legalization poses challenges in balancing control and minimizing addiction rates.
    • The allure of forbidden substances can lead to increased attraction, but the legalization of drugs raises concerns about safety and highlights the importance of recovery and overcoming addiction.
    • It is important to find a healthy balance and outlet for ambition and drive, as an addiction to success can lead to destructive habits and negative consequences.
    • Recovery from addiction is a personal and individualized process. Finding healthy alternatives and understanding the reasons behind addiction are crucial steps towards recovery.
    • The difficulty of hunting adds to its value, highlighting the importance of persistence and survival instincts in various aspects of life.
    • Hunting is a thrilling activity that requires skill, preparation, and caution. While it presents difficulties such as navigating tough terrains and unpredictable factors, the satisfaction of a successful hunt and the high-quality animal protein make it worthwhile. Respect for the natural world is essential.
    • Respect and education are crucial when encountering grizzly bears, as their size and power can be overwhelming. Laws and regulations should be carefully considered to ensure the safety of both humans and bears.
    • Controlled hunting can help manage overpopulated animal species, providing sustainable protein while minimizing the negative impacts on ecosystems and the well-being of animals and humans.
    • By maintaining a regular fitness regimen, making conscious dietary choices, and eliminating unhealthy food, transformative physical results can be achieved.
    • Opting for real, minimally processed foods and being mindful of calorie intake is crucial for maintaining a healthy diet and preventing conditions like diabetes.
    • Our modern food system, which prioritizes processed and flavorful foods, leads to overeating and a preference for variety. Recognizing this can help make mindful choices about our eating habits.

    đź“ť Podcast Summary

    The Evolution of Exploration in the Digital Age

    Humans have always been explorers, driven by a massive curiosity to know more and discover new things. Throughout history, humans have constantly pushed the boundaries of exploration, from venturing into new territories to delving into the depths of the ocean and outer space. However, the way we explore has changed with the advent of technology. While the internet provides quick access to vast amounts of information, it also poses challenges in discerning truth from falsehood and promoting understanding rather than just knowledge. It's important to be mindful of the ease with which we can access information and make an effort to dive deeper and truly comprehend the complexities of the world around us.

    Finding certainty in a complex world through conspiracy theories

    Conspiracy theories can provide a sense of certainty in a complicated and uncertain world. Humans have a natural craving for certainty, even to the point of choosing to experience immediate pain in order to avoid waiting for uncertainty. Conspiracies offer a simple explanation that aligns with personal worldviews, providing relief from the complexity of reality. The belief in flat Earth and other conspiracies may seem illogical, but they provide a sense of control and certainty in a confusing world. However, it's important to critically evaluate information and seek evidence-based knowledge rather than falling into the trap of confirmation bias.

    The innate drive for exploration and accumulation: Exciting but problematic.

    Humans have a deep-rooted desire for exploration and accumulation. Whether it's uncovering hidden truths or venturing to unknown places, we are naturally driven to seek out information and experiences. This evolutionary instinct stems from our past when resources were scarce and obtaining them gave us a survival advantage. However, in today's world of abundance, this instinct can lead to excessive consumption and the inability to moderate our behaviors. We find ourselves constantly searching for the next thrill or possession, even when we know it's not in our best interest. This innate drive can be both exciting and problematic, as it plays on our primal instincts while challenging our ability to find balance and contentment.

    The Scarcity Loop: Hooking Individuals through Opportunities, Rewards, and Repeat Behavior

    The design of certain products, like slot machines, leverages a behavior loop called the scarcity loop to captivate and hook individuals. This loop consists of three parts: opportunity, unpredictable rewards, and quick repeatability. With slot machines, players have the opportunity to win money, but the rewards are unpredictable, ranging from winning nothing to a life-changing amount. Furthermore, the ability to immediately repeat the behavior, with players playing about 16 games a minute, adds to the addictive nature. This behavior loop is not only seen in gambling but is also used in various industries like social media, sports gambling, dating apps, gig work economy companies, and even the financial industry. These industries exploit the scarcity loop to keep individuals engaged and hooked on their products or services.

    The Evolutionary Influence on Social Media Likes and Slot Machines

    Our attraction to social media likes and the allure of slot machines stem from evolutionary factors. The need to search and repeat behaviors, which helped our ancestors find food, is now embedded in these modern-day experiences. This search for random rewards grabs our attention due to its survival value in the past. These same patterns are exploited by big tech companies and industries, manipulating our reward systems to keep us engaged. Additionally, research on pigeons shows that they too can become hooked on gambling-like behaviors, even when the predictable rewards offer more food. This suggests that our desire for the uncertain, even when it defies logic, is deeply ingrained within us.

    The Natural Inclination to Seek Efficiency and Stimulation

    Both animals and humans have a natural inclination to seek out the most efficient and least effortful ways to obtain food or stimulation. Animals, like pigeons and rats, instinctively choose the optimal method to maximize their energy expenditure and rewards. Similarly, humans are driven to find stimulation and meaning in their lives and will often resort to activities like gambling or excessive internet use when they lack enough stimulation from other sources. This inclination arises from our evolutionary history when survival required constant physical and mental effort. However, in today's modern society, where stimulation and meaning can be more elusive, it is crucial to find healthy outlets and balance in our pursuit, rather than overdoing counterproductive activities. Moreover, it is interesting to note that despite the complexity of human existence, there is no universally agreed-upon management book for optimal living, highlighting the need for individuals to navigate their own paths.

    The Benefits and Challenges of Technology in our Lives

    The rapid advancements in technology have brought both benefits and challenges to our lives. While technology has undoubtedly improved various aspects of our existence, such as increasing life expectancy and enhancing communication, it has also created a complex world that humans are struggling to navigate. Our ancient hardware, referring to our innate biology and cognitive abilities, isn't evolving as quickly as the fast-paced technological changes, leading to conflicts and problems. Moreover, the integration of humans with technology, including artificial intelligence and deep fakes, raises concerns about distinguishing between what is real and what is fake. Additionally, the increasing reliance on technology in various spheres, such as work and social media, has created a system where individuals feel compelled to adopt technology for fear of being left behind or even punished. This raises questions about the balance between technology and human well-being, as well as the potential consequences of blindly following algorithms and metrics without considering individual productivity and value. Ultimately, the relationship between humans and technology requires careful consideration and conscious decision-making to ensure a harmonious coexistence.

    The Influence of Numbers on Behavior and Decision-Making

    Numbers have a significant impact on human behavior and goals. Whether it's the way we measure employee performance or use social media platforms like Twitter, the introduction of numbers changes our perspective. For example, on Twitter, the goal of discussion and understanding can be overshadowed by the pursuit of likes and retweets. Similarly, in hunting, the desire to ethically choose mature animals based on their reproductive success and experience is sometimes replaced by the fixation on a specific number, such as the size of an antler. This shift in focus can alter the original intention and objectives, highlighting the influence of numbers on human behavior and decision-making.

    The Distortion of Numbers and Scores

    Our obsession with numbers and scores can distort our experiences and lead to a harmful focus on the superficial. Whether it's hunting for a specific deer measurement or rating wines with scores, we often prioritize arbitrary benchmarks over the true value and pleasure of the activity. This mentality has real consequences, as it influences the behavior of industries and individuals who strive to meet the demanded numbers, sometimes at the expense of authenticity and quality. We must remember that subjective experiences cannot be summed up by a single number and that the pursuit of rarity and uniqueness should not blind us to potential fraud or manipulation. Ultimately, it's important to focus on the genuine enjoyment and meaning behind our pursuits, rather than getting caught up in the quest for arbitrary accomplishments.

    The Deceptive World of Wine: Exposing the Fake Old Wine Scam

    The world of wine can be incredibly deceptive. The story of the fake old wine scam highlights how easily people can be tricked into believing they are experiencing an exquisite and expensive wine, when in reality it's just an ordinary, inexpensive bottle. This scam not only fooled experts but also wealthy individuals who had an unlimited amount of money to spend on their collection. It underscores the power of expectations and the placebo effect in shaping our experience and perception of wine. Furthermore, it raises questions about the true value and complexity of wine, as even experts can disagree on what constitutes a good or fake bottle. Ultimately, it reminds us that sometimes the difference between a high-priced wine and a cheap one is not as significant as we may think.

    Rethinking Success: Beyond Numbers and Metrics

    Our obsession with numbers and metrics can lead us to overlook the true purposes and values in our lives. We often place too much importance on quantifiable measures, such as grades or income, assuming that they accurately reflect success and happiness. However, these numbers may not capture the full spectrum of our achievements, potentials, and well-being. The pursuit of high grades or wealth can blind us to the importance of personal growth, relationships, and genuine satisfaction in our chosen paths. Ultimately, it is essential to question the absolute truth that numbers seem to provide and to focus on our individual definitions of success and happiness, even if they cannot be easily quantified.

    The Pursuit of Happiness: Beyond Material Possessions

    Achieving happiness does not necessarily come from chasing material possessions or societal status. Research shows that once our basic needs are met, additional income does not significantly contribute to overall happiness. An interesting example of this is the happiness levels reported by Benedictine monks, who live an austere and minimalistic lifestyle. Despite lacking material comforts and isolation from the rest of the world, they report higher levels of happiness compared to the general public. This suggests that finding a higher purpose and prioritizing meaningful experiences over material possessions may be key to happiness. Additionally, interactions with others who have different perspectives and ways of life can provide valuable insights and lessons. It is important to be mindful of the energy we put out into the world, as being negative or mean to others ultimately affects our own well-being.

    The Power of Kindness and Connection

    Our interactions with others have a significant impact on our overall well-being. Joe Rogan emphasizes the importance of being mindful of how we treat others, both in person and online. He believes that engaging in negative behavior, such as saying mean things or tearing people down, is not healthy or beneficial. Instead, he suggests focusing on creating positive experiences and exchanges that uplift and support others. By affecting people in a positive way, we contribute to the overall good in the world. Rogan also highlights the significance of human connection and the fundamental desire to be loved and not feel alone. Ultimately, by prioritizing kindness and understanding, we can enhance our own happiness and create a better society.

    The Power of Understanding and Kindness

    Our experiences and upbringing greatly shape who we become as adults. Understanding this can lead to greater empathy and compassion towards others. Instead of quickly judging someone as an "asshole," we should consider the possibility that their actions stem from past pain and trauma. This perspective allows us to approach interactions with more understanding and kindness, which can positively impact both our own experiences and those around us. Moreover, seeing people as individuals who were once innocent babies, full of potential, can help us recognize the societal and environmental factors that contribute to their current situations, such as homelessness. It is important to refrain from harsh judgments and instead work towards finding solutions and offering support.

    Evolving perspectives on vaccines and addiction

    Our understanding of vaccines and addiction has evolved over time. Initially, it was believed that vaccines could completely stop transmission and infection, but we now know that's not the case. Furthermore, there is some intriguing data suggesting that frequent vaccination may actually correlate with higher rates of COVID-19 infection. However, in 2020, when the pandemic hit, it was necessary for politicians to promote vaccination and provide incentives to encourage public compliance. Admitting that they were wrong would have given ammunition to their opponents. Similarly, our perception of addiction has shifted from a moral failing to a brain disease. But this perspective may strip individuals of hope and actually lead to higher rates of relapse. Ultimately, addiction is often a short-term solution to underlying problems, creating long-term consequences. It is crucial to consider the uncertainty and complexity of these issues rather than pretending to have all the answers.

    The Rise of Captagon: The Devastating Consequences of Accessible and Potent Drugs in the Middle East

    The availability and concentration of psychoactive substances can lead to long-term problems and addiction. This is exemplified by the case of Captagon, a drug sweeping across the Middle East. Iraq, a country that previously had low addiction rates due to strict control of drugs, experienced a spike in addiction after the war and the influx of Captagon from Syria. The drug provides short-term relief to a population plagued by trauma and economic ruin. The production and smuggling of Captagon involves complex methods, such as hiding the pills in sheep's stomachs. It is alarming to realize that billions of these pills are circulating in the Middle East, turning Syria into a narco state. The control of this trade by powerful military units and terrorist organizations like Hesbala further complicates the situation. Overall, the story highlights the destructive impact of easily accessible and potent psychoactive substances on vulnerable populations.

    Understanding the Complexity of Addiction

    Addiction is a complex issue with multiple factors at play. It is not simply a matter of lacking social connections or having a genetic predisposition. People turn to substances like alcohol as a rational choice to temporarily alleviate pain or escape from boredom and monotony. The brain changes caused by drugs are undeniable, but the question remains whether these changes completely eliminate an individual's ability to make choices and change their behavior. There is a confluence of personal circumstances, societal pressures, and the allure of immediate relief that contribute to addiction. Recovery is a challenging journey that requires acknowledging the necessity of change and finding empathy for those who struggle with addiction.

    Understanding Addiction and the Dilemma of Drug Legalization

    Addiction can manifest in various forms and behaviors, including food, gambling, workaholism, and even exercise. These activities can serve as escapes from life's challenges and provide temporary relief. Additionally, the conversation highlights the alarming prevalence and accessibility of potent and dangerous drugs. The potency and affordability of drugs, coupled with the addition of substances like fentanyl, have contributed to a rise in overdose deaths. The debate around drug legalization poses a dilemma, as legalizing drugs may reduce fatalities caused by laced substances but could potentially increase addiction rates. The unpredictable nature and illegal status of drugs can make the search and consumption more enticing. Striking a balance between legal control and minimizing criminal activity remains a challenge.

    The forbidden fruit effect and the implications of drug legalization

    The forbidden fruit effect plays a significant role in behavior and attraction to certain substances. Prohibition and the illegal status of drugs like marijuana have often made them more enticing and desirable. This effect is seen throughout history, like with the rise in drinking during prohibition and the development of NASCAR as a result of bootlegging. However, the legalization of drugs poses complex questions about the potential consequences. While freedom of choice is important, there is a concern for safety, especially when it comes to issues like tainted substances and cartel wars. It is also important to recognize that recovery from addiction is possible, and age and wisdom can often play a role in overcoming substance abuse issues.

    The dangers of addiction to success

    Addiction to success can be just as dangerous as addiction to drugs or alcohol. Athletes, particularly fighters, often become single-minded in their pursuit of excellence, sacrificing everything else in their lives. They become addicted to the thrill of winning and achieving greatness, constantly striving to be the best. However, when they inevitably face setbacks or injuries that prevent them from competing, they can easily fall into destructive habits like substance abuse. This pattern is not limited to athletes, as anyone who loses the thing that gave them meaning and identity may search for a new fix. The key is to find a healthy outlet for ambition and drive, and to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with an addiction to success.

    Overcoming addiction: A unique journey for everyone

    Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their background or social status. It is important to recognize that addiction is not limited to what we typically perceive as "addicts" on the streets, but can impact anyone for various reasons. However, the path to recovery is unique for each individual. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, as what works for one person may not work for another. Taking action and finding something that fills the void left by addiction is crucial. It could be engaging in productive activities such as exercise, learning a new skill, or exploring new experiences. Ultimately, understanding the underlying reasons behind addiction and finding healthier replacements is key to recovery. Additionally, challenging preconceived notions about hunting and understanding the cycle of life can help broaden perspectives on sustainability and responsible consumption.

    The Challenge and Value of Hunting

    Hunting is not easy, especially when using a bow and arrow. It requires discipline, practice, and physical fitness. Many people have misconceptions about hunting, thinking it's as simple as using a high-powered rifle and taking down animals effortlessly. However, the reality is quite different. Hunting involves trekking through challenging terrains, burning thousands of calories, and facing the possibility of returning home empty-handed. The difficulty of hunting actually adds to its value and reward. Humans are wired to appreciate things that are harder to acquire, as it incentivizes persistence and survival instincts. This concept applies not only to hunting but also to various aspects of life, such as building a business or maintaining a successful relationship. Ultimately, the process and effort put into achieving something hold greater intrinsic value than the end result alone.

    The Challenges and Rewards of Hunting

    Hunting can be both challenging and rewarding. The conversation highlights the difficulties hunters face in finding animals, navigating tough terrains, and dealing with unpredictable factors like wind and weather. However, the satisfaction and relief that come with a successful hunt, along with the high-quality animal protein it provides, make it all worth it. They also discuss the increasing population of mountain lions and the potential dangers they pose. The mention of a friend shooting himself in the ankle while trying to defend against a grizzly bear emphasizes the risks involved in hunting and the need for caution. Overall, hunting is a complex and exhilarating activity that requires skill, preparation, and respect for the natural world.

    Understanding and Respect for Grizzly Bears

    Encounters with grizzly bears can be absolutely terrifying and life-threatening. The sheer size and power of these giants is unimaginable until experienced firsthand. Even experienced outdoorsmen like Steve Ranella can be completely overwhelmed by the instinctual fear and panic that arises when faced with such a ferocious predator. It is crucial to have a deep respect and understanding of the wild and its inhabitants, especially for those living in urban areas who may not have encountered wildlife before. Laws and regulations regarding bear hunting should be carefully considered, taking into account the potential dangers posed by allowing populations to thrive unchecked. Awareness and education are key to making informed decisions about living and coexisting with these formidable creatures.

    The negative consequences of overpopulated animal species and the importance of finding a balance between preservation and well-being.

    The overpopulation of certain animal species can lead to negative consequences for both the animals themselves and humans. As discussed by Joe Rogan and Michael Easter, when animal populations become too large, they face challenges in accessing food, which can result in in-fighting and suffering. Additionally, these animals may pose a danger to humans and their livestock. In order to manage these populations and mitigate the negative impacts, methods such as controlled hunting can be employed. This not only helps control the invasive population but also provides a source of sustainable and delicious protein. It is important to find a balance between preserving ecosystems and ensuring the well-being of both animals and humans.

    Consistency and Preparation: The Key to Achieving Physical Goals

    Consistency and preparation are key to achieving physical goals. Joe Rogan's rigorous workout routine, which includes a variety of exercises and cardio sessions, showcases the importance of sticking to a regular fitness regimen. By consistently pushing himself and maintaining a high level of physical fitness, Rogan was able to successfully tackle challenging activities like hunting in the mountains. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and cutting out unnecessary and unhealthy food choices proved to be a significant factor in Rogan's overall success. This highlights the importance of making conscious dietary choices and eliminating "bullshit" from one's eating habits. Overall, the combination of consistency, preparation, and a healthy lifestyle can lead to transformative physical results.

    Contrasting Diets: Unprocessed vs Ultra-Processed Foods

    The diet of the tribe mentioned in the conversation is vastly different from popular diets in the modern world. They eat a variety of foods, including sugar, chocolate, red meat, fish, white rice, white potatoes, and even corn. However, the real difference maker is that their diet consists of real, unprocessed food. In comparison, the average American diet is dominated by ultra-processed foods, which make up about 60% of their food intake. These ultra-processed foods often contain three key elements: value, variety, and velocity, which contribute to overeating. Additionally, the speed at which ultra-processed foods are consumed leads to consuming more calories compared to minimally processed foods. This highlights the importance of choosing real, minimally processed foods and being mindful of calorie intake to maintain a healthy diet and avoid conditions like diabetes.

    The Impact of Modern Food on Overeating and Food Preferences

    Our modern food system has prioritized hyper palatable, processed foods that are loaded with sugar and flavor enhancers. This contributes to overeating and a preference for variety in our meals. Studies have shown that when offered a wide range of different foods, people tend to eat more. Additionally, our taste preferences have been shaped by the intense flavors and textures of modern foods, making simpler, healthier options less rewarding. While this abundance of delicious food is a positive in terms of avoiding starvation, it has led to issues such as food waste and overconsumption. Recognizing the impact of our food environment can help us make more mindful choices about what and how much we eat.

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